Paralympics 2012: Organizers Say London Is Ready for Another Big Sports Event

London Olympics Logo NEW - P 2012

London Olympics Logo NEW - P 2012

Organizers say the Games, which are nearly sold out, may follow the Summer Olympics, but they are "not an after-thought."


LONDON - The British capital is ready for the 2012 Paralympic Games, which kick off here on Wednesday night, organizers said Tuesday.

During a press conference that was webcast, London Mayor Boris Johnson said the city was ready for another exciting big sports event after the successful Summer Olympics, which ended earlier this month.

"This is a big event," emphasized Paul Deighton, CEO of the London Olympics and Paralympics organizing committee, highlighting 3,000 broadcast media expected to cover the more than 500 events in 21 disciplines. "We have seen extraordinary demand for tickets."

The Paralympics could be the first ones ever to sell out, with 2.4 million tickets already sold. Organizers will release the rest in blocks of 10,000 per day, Deighton told the press conference.

"The opening ceremony is sold out," he said though. The spectacle is entitled "Enlightenment" and will - just like the Summer Games opening ceremony - feature lines from William Shakespeare's "Tempest."

"It will be the most-watched Paralympics opening of all time," Deighton also predicted, highlighting that the International Paralympics Committee has reached an agreement with YouTube to stream the opening ceremony in the U.S.

Sports minister Hugh Robertson said that the Paralympics are "not an after-thought" for London following the Summer Games.

But the press conference also highlighted that hard work will go into pulling off the Paralympics over the next two weeks without problems. The city's transportation system is expected to be busy again given the Paralympics, other sports events and an upcoming Lady Gaga concert in early September, organizers warned, for example.

And while they didn't want to comment on potential threats, they said police and a private security firm will have many staffers at venues and in the streets to ensure the Paralympics take place without problems.

Twitter: @georgszalai